Significant generation change

Those born between 1965 and 1974 (also referred to as Generation X) were found by a recent research to have a 43% stroke cases compared to the Golden Generation.

A lead researcher and Ph.D. candidate at the Rutgers University School of Public Health in New Jersey, Joel Swerdel, said that “People born during what I call the ‘Golden Generation,’ 1945 to 1954, had lower rates of stroke than those born 20 years before them and also in the 20 years after them.”

Stroke happens when blood clots in the blood vessels, effectively blocking them, more so the brain artery. The effect of this is that the brain cells are denied oxygen and in the process end up dying. According to data provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is the fifth cause of death in the United States.

How the study was done

The researchers compared the stroke cases between various generations, using data from almost all heart disease and stroke hospitals in New Jersey.

Swerdel and his colleagues used over 225,000 records to compare the stroke cases for people in the same generation gap. This data was harnessed between 1995 and 2014.

For instance, for the people between 35 to 39 years of age who are eligible to test adult cpr, researchers considered how many of them had suffered from a heart attack between 1995 and 1999. They then looked at the number of people aged 35 to 39 who experienced stroke between 2010 and 2014. Finally, they placed the data side by side and analyzed it.

What were the findings?

The investigators encountered that the stroke cases among the younger generations were on a rise. When the 1995 to 1999 data was compared to the 2010 – 2014 data, the following was revealed:

  • The rate of stroke was more than twice for people between 35 and 39
  • For people aged 40 to 44, the rate of strokes doubled
  • The rate of strokes rose by 68% for people aged 40 to 44
  • For people aged 55+, the rate of strokes declined significantly

The Golden Generation

Swerdel suggested that the Golden Generation has more offers for them, including cholesterol-lowering drugs and blood pressure medication. These could not be enjoyed by their predecessors.

“If we look back at U.S. history, there was a big push towards adding a lot of sugar to food,” Swerdel said. “For instance, sugared cereals didn’t become popular until the early 1960s. The rates of obesity and diabetes in these younger groups may be a function of that.”

Daniel Lackland, a professor and director of translational neuroscience and population studies at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston said that the young people have not been badly exposed to risks of high blood pressure. He said that the war against hypertension started in 1970s to help people keep a check on their blood pressure. “These younger folks have not been exposed as diligently to that message,” he said.

To help fight the problem, Lackland said that people should be reviewed when they are still in their teenage years. He is also an American Heart Association spokesman.